The Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s personified the flamboyance and excess of the decade over which they reigned. Beginning with the arrival of Earvin “Magic” Johnson as the number-one overall pick of the 1979 draft, the Lakers played basketball with gusto and pizzazz, unleashing their famed “Showtime” run-and-gun style on a league unprepared for their speed and ferocity—and became the most captivating show in sports and, arguably, in all-around American entertainment. The Lakers’ roster overflowed with exciting all-star-caliber players, including center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and they were led by the incomparable Pat Riley, known for his slicked-back hair, his Armani suits, and his arrogant strut. Hollywood’s biggest celebrities lined the court and gorgeous women flocked to the arena. Best of all, the team was a winner. Between 1980 and 1991, the Lakers played in an unmatched nine NBA championship series, capturing five of them.
Bestselling sportswriter Jeff Pearlman draws from almost three hundred interviews to take the first full measure of the Lakers’ epic Showtime era. A dazzling account of one of America’s greatest sports sagas, Showtime is packed with indelible characters, vicious rivalries, and jaw-dropping, behind-the-scenes stories of the players’ decadent Hollywood lifestyles. From the Showtime era’s remarkable rise to its tragic end—marked by Magic Johnson’s 1991 announcement that he had contracted HIV—Showtime is a gripping narrative of sports, celebrity, and 1980s-style excess.
The United States Football League—known fondly to millions of sports fans as the USFL—was the last football league to not merely challenge the NFL, but cause its owners and executives to collectively shudder. It spanned three seasons, 1983-85. It secured multiple television deals. It drew millions of fans and launched the careers of legends. But then it died beneath the weight of a particularly egotistical and bombastic owner—a New York businessman named Donald J. Trump. The league featured as many as 18 teams, and included such superstars as Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Herschel Walker, Reggie White, Doug Flutie and Mike Rozier.
In Football for a Buck, the dogged reporter and biographer Jeff Pearlman draws on more than four hundred interviews to unearth all the salty, untold stories of one of the craziest sports entities to have ever captivated America. From 1980s drug excess to airplane brawls and player-coach punch outs, to backroom business deals, to some of the most enthralling and revolutionary football ever seen, Pearlman transports readers back in time to this crazy, boozy, audacious, unforgettable era of the game. He shows how fortunes were made and lost on the backs of professional athletes and also how, thirty years ago, Trump was a scoundrel and a spoiler.
For fans of Terry Pluto’s Loose Balls or Jim Bouton’s Ball Four and of course Pearlman’s own stranger-than-fiction narratives, Football for a Buck is sports as high entertainment—and a cautionary tale of the dangers of ego and excess.
In Gunslinger, Jeff Pearlman tells Brett Favre’s story for the first time, charting his unparalleled journey from a rough rural childhood and lackluster high school football career to landing the last scholarship at Southern Mississippi, to a car accident that nearly took his life, and eventually to the NFL and Green Bay, where he restored the Packers to greatness and inspired a fan base as passionate as any in the game. Yet he struggled with demons: addiction, infidelity, the loss of his father, and a fraught, painfully prolonged exit from the game he loved, a game he couldn’t bear to leave.
Gritty and revelatory, Gunslinger is a big sports biography of the highest order, a fascinating portrait of the man with the rocket arm whose life has been one of triumph, fame, tragedy, embarrassment, and—ultimately—redemption.
“The compelling, complete story of his legend, and his faults.”—Chicago Tribune
It was 1986, and the New York Mets won 108 regular-season games and the World Series, capturing the hearts (and other assorted body parts) of fans everywhere. But their greatness on the field was nearly eclipsed by how bad they were off it. Led by the indomitable Keith Hernandez and the young dynamic duo of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, along with the gallant Scum Bunch, the Amazin’s left a wide trail of wreckage in their wake—hotel rooms, charter planes, a bar in Houston, and most famously Bill Buckner and the hated Boston Red Sox.
With an unforgettable cast of characters—including Doc, Straw, the Kid, Nails, Mex, and manager Davey Joshson—this “affectionate but critical look at this exciting season” (Publishers Weekly) celebrates the last of baseball’s arrogant, insane, rock-and-roll-and-party-all-night teams, exploring what could have been, what should have been, and what never was.
At five feet ten inches tall, running back Walter Peyton was not the largest player in the NFL, but he developed a larger-than-life reputation for his strength, speed, and grit. Nicknamed "Sweetness" during his college football days, he became the NFL's all-time leader in rushing and all-purpose yards, capturing the hearts of fans in his adopted Chicago.
Crafted from interviews with more than 700 sources, acclaimed sportswriter Jeff Pearlman has produced the first definitive biography of Payton. Sweetness at last brings fans a detailed, scrupulously researched, all-encompassing account of the legend's rise to greatness. From Payton's childhood in segregated Mississippi, where he ended a racial war by becoming the star of his integrated high school's football team, to his college years and his twelve-year NFL career, Sweetness brims with stories of all-American heroism, and covers Payton's life off the field as well. Set against the backdrop of the tragic illness that cut his life short at just forty- six years of age, this is a stirring tribute to a singular icon and the lasting legacy he made.
Jeff Pearlman, the New York Times bestselling author of The Bad Guys Won! and Boys Will be Boys, now brings us The Rocket That Fell to Earth, an explosive account of the rise and fall of Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees superstar Roger Clemens, arguably the greatest pitcher of all time. Called “exceptional” by Time magazine, The Rocket That Fell to Earth is a stunning portrait of a sports legend equally loved and loathed by fans and colleagues, his life and his storied career, and his place at the dead center of professional baseball’s shocking steroid controversy.
In Love Me, Hate Me, author Jeff Pearlman offers a searing and insightful look into one of the most divisive athletes of our time. Drawing on more than five hundred interviews -- with former and current teammates, opponents, managers, trainers, friends, and outspoken critics and unapologetic supporters alike -- Pearlman reveals, for the first time, a wonderfully nuanced portrait of a prodigiously talented and immensely flawed American icon whose controversial run at baseball immortality forever changed the way we look at our sports heroes.